CSMLS calls for the regulation of medical laboratory assistants to enhance patient safety

April 23, 2013

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) calls for the regulation of medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) in all jurisdictions across Canada to enhance patient safety for all Canadians. Regulation would define the scope of practice for these laboratory professionals, adopt a harmonized standard for entry to practice and set standards for continuing professional development.

Medical laboratory assistants play a key role in Canada’s health care system. They sort, prepare and sometimes process samples that will be tested and analyzed by medical laboratory technologists. MLAs often collect samples, such as blood, and are often the laboratory professional that interacts directly with patients.

“MLAs are often the front line of the diagnostic process,” says Heather Autio, President of the CSMLS. “The work they do will affect all of the diagnostic testing and analysis that will happen further down the chain. Their impact, therefore, can hugely affect patient care, either positively or negatively.”

The purpose of professional regulation is to protect the public. Medical laboratory technologists are already regulated in almost all jurisdictions in Canada (AB, SK, MB, ON, QC, NB, NS and NL). The CSMLS would like to see medical laboratory assistants follow suit given the strong connection between the two roles.

In a position paper published on the CSMLS website ( the CSMLS outlined its stance on the need for regulating MLAs.

“The fact that there are only voluntary standards in place for the training of these professionals and no place for the public to report incidents if they occur is concerning,” states Christine Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of the CSMLS. “I hope provincial and territorial governments will put patient safety first and move forward with the necessary legislation to make the regulation of MLAs a reality.”

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada's medical laboratory professionals. Incorporated in 1937 as the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists, the society has over 14,000 members in Canada and in countries around the world.


For more information about CSMLS or interview requests, please contact:

Michelle Hoad
Director of Marketing, Communication & Membership
Phone: 905-528-8642 ext. 8693

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Indigenous Land Acknowledgement : We respectfully acknowledge the CSMLS office, located in Hamilton, Ontario, is situated upon the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississauga Nation, Anishinaabe Peoples, and the Neutral Peoples. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon wampum, which is a treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.


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